Samantha McCaughren from the independent meets e-commerce retailer Tommy Kelly, an entrepreneur who can't wait to embrace Brexit
For many Irish businesses, the prospect of Brexit is a source of fear and uncertainty, but for Tommy Kelly the UK's departure from the EU presents a new opportunity. His company, the Dublin-based eShopWorld, is all about making it easy for retailers to sell across borders. "Brexit creates another market for us so the UK just pops up as another region," he says. "It is clearly going to have challenges for different aspects of business but for us it creates opportunity and the UK is a significant e-commerce market, so we're watching it closely."
"We don't really discuss our customers but all I would say to you is if you look at the top lingerie, sports apparel, footwear brands in the world, we would represent most of the top three in those spaces."
Sitting in trendy, bright new offices in the same building which houses Ryanair in Swords, Co Dublin, Kelly (57) says the inter-country retail market is just opening up.
In addition to its hiring plans, the company will invest €25m over the next three years in people, software development and R&D.
Starting off in a Portakabin with a heavy reliance on paper, Kelly and his co-founders grew the company into a significant logistics business, Twoway Forwarding.
It was a competitive business but Twoway marked itself out by being a specialist UK-Ireland overnight service.
Among its trading partners was a Dubai-based company called Aramex, which had come off the Nasdaq and refloated in Dubai.
"We were probably the strongest and largest independent European operator so there was a natural affiliation," says Kelly. "It was a good marriage."
During that period, however, he had become aware of a problem facing many retailers across the world. When an Irish shopper went to buy from a US company, for example, all would go well until the end of the process when excise duties and other expenses would be added on.
"Retailers were seeing the demand from international shoppers but they knew they were dealing with the demand badly," says Kelly. "So typically, and probably a simple way to put this, people were seeing an awful lot of hits to their website and not enough conversion to buying compared to domestic traffic.
"The whole processes at that stage were geared towards business-to-business customers internationally. There was no real infrastructure or process in place that was conducive to business-to-consumer trade.
"As well as taxes, there were other cross-border problems. For example, in Europe only 40pc of people pay with credit cards and typically big brands would only have offered a credit card."
While getting a new business off the ground is challenging, Kelly had identified a niche.
"You're selling a concept so clearly getting the first customer is always the most challenging," he says. "But I think we were quite lucky in the sense that we knew the problem we were trying to solve. So we weren't going with a product to the market where there wasn't a demand."
With international shopping becoming an increasingly smooth process, will global retailers look differently at their expansion into to shops around the world?
"I think it's not going to affect their international expansion," says Kelly. "But I think there will also be a trade-off of bricks and mortar stores versus online and the investment online. The great thing about online is that people can go to market with a less significant investment than if they were going with traditional retail outlets. And what we're seeing today is that people are tending to take both options."
"We service China but we probably have bigger plans for China and India," he adds.
"When we look at some of the markets like India and China, they're massive economies, typically some of them are dominated by a small number of players and I think they are areas we want to look at closely."
Having set up two businesses during recessions, Kelly is a great believer in the Irish economy. "I think we are a very agile economy and I think a very resilient economy in the way we've come through different recessions, and we usually come out the other side in good shape."
He would like to see more Irish companies branch out internationally. "I think Irish companies should take the leap of faith to step outside Ireland with their offerings and their customer base," he says. "Because Irish people tend to run quality companies, in my view. I think not just in this business but several Irish businesses."
A good book I read recently is... Born to Run by Springsteen. It's really about a man and his commitment
My favourite place is... Hong Kong. There's a great buzz. I think it's sort of East meets West and it's a nice blend of both
The best piece of business advice I've been given is ... Keep it simple. There's uniqueness to all businesses, but if you keep it simple you cover an awful lot of the challenges